Thanks guys. My original intention was to continue with some experimentation through this site but "life" just somehow got in the way. That being said, I've actually learned some new tricks over the year just straight up working and paying attention.
Walter- I'm curious what places you worked at and from whom. My grandfather's family used to make pizza through their shop on Mulberry St.; called Marconi's.
When I first started out, I learned from the Ruffino's, from one of the original 'slice chains' in Brooklyn (Connie's). That and I spent a lot of time hanging out at Original's, watching their dough opening technique (seeing just how good the pizza guy there was what made me push to be the pizzaiolo I am today).
Hi Nick: I did more of apprentenships when I was a teen and pre teen. I drifted out of the scene to persue music and would check back in working in bakeries/pizzerias when I needed money. That lasted about 20 years. I went to college and got my teaching degree and for the last 10 years or so I have gotten re-inspired on dough/pizza/baking and have incorporated it with working with special needs high school students(link at bottom of my post). I am now a special education teacher running a commerical bakery/pizzeria in a high school. Starting out in NJ I often worked for nothing just to learn. I worked at the resevior in south orange, and at Alfredo's in south orange. The Resevoir was a local favoorite that started in Newark in the 30's and was one of the first pizzerias. My uncle was a cop in town and got me a job there. I watched more than anything while doing dishes and prep work. As you know, back then you had to earn your stripes to make pizzas. A kid of 15 had no legitimacy with the public. Alfredo was right off the boat from Italy. He married a woman here and one of his stipulations was he could open his own cafe. He had an old blodgett deck oven and even roasted his coffee beans in it. He taught me a lot about pizza from an Italian perspective using a gas deck oven I guess you might say. He did small meals and his expresso machine was his baby. I was there on and off for a couple years. He tired of the american way and went back to Italy. He saw making a pizza/capacino as art and took his time. He was a 1 man operation and that made for long waits and back then people wouldn't wait for pizza like they do today. I sort of was a tool in his hand. He told me what to do and I did it. My mother and her family made all kinds of doughs and baked goods. They did it in Italy for a career and dabbled in it in NJ but found it not as satifying as back home. They said america was in too much of a rush and kept at it on their own. My grandfather was a butcher and he would cure meats/smoke meats in his garage, had a still for his cordials, grew grapes/made wine, and my grandmother made everything from scratch. She would lay out sheets in the spare bedroom of their rented 2 story/2 family home you see a lot of back home, for her pasta stuff. They made bread everyday and pizzas on occasion but only had a home oven. I learned a lot about dough from her and my mother. They lived next door to Pechter's bakery(famous for their rye bread) and we spent every saturday/sunday at their house. My mother tells me I started wandering over there at about age 5. I would watch the breads being made and was sort of a mascot to the guys there. I will always remember the white uniforms, the smell of bread and the loaf they would give me. Dough has always intriqued me and IMO is the heart of a pizza. I also worked at Bunny's bar/pizzeria in south orange. I made pies there. They were nothing special but it was fun working an oven. Like you, I also studied all the great pizza makers in my area. Here is a picture of the pies/breads/bagels we make in our bakery/pizzeria in central Ohio. We are a small unique set up where everything is hand made. We hand roll, boil, bake our bagels on bagel boards in the blodgetts. Also our breads are baked in the blodgetts with a water tray for steam. Walter
Tino's at Ortley Beach was another great pizza IMO. I studied Tino everyday during our summer vacations. He dug having me watch him. He said he would hire me but we were only there a few weeks each summer. They closed and he and his wife moved to Florida. Star Tavern in Orange NJ is another place I studied for years but women made all the pies and they wouldn't hire me.
I found this link to Tinos. there is a picture of their pies but the old photo quality doesn't do them justice.http://simeone.us/